Rauf Salem, a volunteer, instructs children on the right way to wash their hands

UN Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is more than a health crisis; it is an economic crisis, a humanitarian crisis, a security crisis, and a human rights crisis. This crisis has highlighted severe fragilities and inequalities within and among nations. Coming out of this crisis will require a whole-of-society, whole-of-government and whole-of-the-world approach driven by compassion and solidarity.

Image of the cover of the report

The UN Secretary-General has launched the 2021 update of the UN Comprehensive Response to COVID-19 (Saving Lives, Protecting Societies, Recovering Better). It provides an update to the first and second editions of the report, released in June and September 2020, respectively.

The Response sets out what we can and must do to:

  • Deliver a global response that leaves no-one behind
  • Reduce our vulnerability to future pandemics
  • Build resilience to future shocks – above all climate change
  • Overcome the severe and systemic inequalities exposed by the pandemic.

The Response promotes three pillars of operation:

  • Delivery of a large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive health response
  • Adoption of policies that address the devastating socioeconomic, humanitarian and human rights aspects of the crisis
  • A recovery process that builds back better

As part of the response, the UN Secretary-General is issuing policy briefs to provide ideas to governments on how to address the consequences of this crisis.

Policy Briefs by Theme

Policy Briefs by Population Group

Policy Briefs by Region

Funding the Response

The United Nations is seeking funding through three main plans:

  • Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan: To address immediate health needs
    The plan was produced by WHO and partners and sets out the priorities for the global health response. It outlines the public health measures that all countries need to implement, to prepare for, and respond to COVID-19. It is being financed through Government budgets, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and WHO’s Solidarity Response Fund, which is open to corporations and individuals.
  • Global Humanitarian Response Plan: To ease the impacts in the 50 most vulnerable countries
    The plan sets out the priorities for the COVID-19 response in vulnerable and poor countries. It is the primary vehicle for raising resources for the immediate COVID-19 related health and multi-sectoral needs in more than 50 priority countries. The plan is being coordinated by OCHA with IASC partners, including WFP, FAO, WHO, IOM, UNDP, UNFPA, UN-Habitat, UNHCR and UNICEF, and complements appeals of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs.
  • UN framework for the immediate socio-economic response: To deliver rapid recovery
    The UN Framework guided the actions of the UN system through the first 12 to 18 months to help social and economic recovery in middle and lower-income countries. While a significant proportion of the $17.8 billion portfolio of sustainable development programmes across UN entities was adjusted towards COVID-19, additional funds are required through the Recover Better Trust Fund. The Recover Better Trust Fund supports efforts in low- and middle-income countries. 

For the status of COVID-19 related funding efforts visit the COVID-19 Data Portal.

Statistics on the UN-response to COVID-19: 1.9 million health and community workers trained; 45 million children, parents and caregivers provided with mental health support; 155 million children helped with learning; 28 million reached with critical water, sanitation and hygiene supplies; over 540,000 healthcare workers provided with personal protective equipment; 100 emergency medical teams deployed.